Stunning Frentzen retires in Nurburgring After leading the European Grand Prix for 32 laps, Heinz-Harald Frentzen was forced to retire with a suspected electrical problem. The German driver had come into the pits with David Coulthard's McLaren...
Stunning Frentzen retires in Nurburgring
After leading the European Grand Prix for 32 laps, Heinz-Harald Frentzen was forced to retire with a suspected electrical problem. The German driver had come into the pits with David Coulthard's McLaren right behind him, but maintained his lead thanks to a first class pit stop by his Benson and Hedges Jordan team mechanics. Shortly after exiting the pit lane he abandoned his race when the car suddenly slowed, then stopped. Frentzen now lies twelve points behind championship leader Mika Hakkinen with two races to go. Damon Hill also had a disappointing day, retiring with loss of drive after the first corner.
"Today was a huge disappointment," said Heinz." It feels awful to drop out of the race when you are leading. Everything had gone so well for the first half of the race and the team did a fantastic job in the pits to get me out ahead of David (Coulthard) but as I came out I seemed to have an electrical problem. We are not sure what it was and we need to analyse it. Our strategy had worked well and I was able to hold back the McLarens which felt really good. But these things happen in motor racing and a lot of driver did not finish the race today or were outside the points. What it important is that Pedro (Diniz) was not hurt because this is the only thing that matters."
"I had a good start," said Damon. "But, when I came out of the first corner I had no power and could not get out of the way. The ensuing accident was very nasty and I saw it happening but there was nothing I could do. I saw Pedro (Diniz) fly past me and I was very worried as I was on the scene when they were tending to him. I am very relieved to hear that he is ok."
"This race was a litany of disasters for all the key teams," said Eddie Jordan. "For us and for Heinz-Harald it was an opportunity lost. But we lead the race and were doing a superb job before we went out. Ours is not the only disappointed team today. I feel sorry for Heinz, but there is a list of other drivers too to feel sorry for - David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella. The Championship is still open. It was great to see Johnny win the race and I would like to congratulate Stewart on the team's first win."
Johnny Herbert's third Grand Prix victory has come as a major boost to the Stewart team which has threatened to win on a number of occasions. Rubens Barrichello almost made it a Stewart 1-2, but was held off for second place by Jordan's 2000 signing Jarno Trulli, who drove his Prost - fitted with wet settings - into a superb second. Ralf Schumacher would have won the race if it were not for a punctured rear tyre, while Giancarlo Fisichella's Benetton was set for first or second prior to him spinning off. David Coulthard's McLaren led the race following Frentzen's retirement, but the Scot crashed in the tricky conditions, while team mate Mika Hakkinen salvaged fifth after making an unecessary early pit stop for wet weather tyres on a track that was only partly affected by rain. Eddie Irvine's race was rendered ineffective by a combination of poor performance and half-minute pit stop caused by the team being apparently unprepared, while team mate Mika Salo crashed out.
One small but important footnote to the race, in which only 9 cars finished, was caused by Spaniard Marc Gene claiming 6th and a single championship point for Minardi. This is Minardi's first point since the 1995 Australian Grand Prix, and placed the Italian team only equal points to Arrows. Only the BAR team has failed to score a point this season. It now has two races in which to avoid the embarrassment of a point-less first season.